With the entire sports world — and the rest of the world in general — at a complete standstill, people are looking for any way possible to quench the thirst for action. RBI Baseball 20 attempts to give players that escape, but, once again, it’s left striking out.
Swing and a miss
RBI Baseball 20 tries to take a more modern approach to gameplay while keeping that arcade feel. While some of the chances pay off, most just leave you frustrated.
Starting with the good, the new “Modern” pitching controls give you more control than the series has ever allowed. There’s a power meter that charges up while you work to place the pitch exactly where you’d like it that becomes easier or more difficult based on your pitcher’s confidence. It’s a nice touch to a game that desperately needed something to make pitching exciting.
But that’s where the positive gameplay elements end.
The modern controls for hitting are poor as it’s just a charge meter that feels delayed on almost every swing. It took just one game of the new mechanic to find myself going back to the classic hitting control scheme. Unfortunately, the issues with hitting continued as everything felt a bit choppy on contact and seemed to hang up a bit.
Once the ball’s in play, it doesn’t always go where it looked to be going. Multiple instances saw a ball look as though it was going to drop in for a base hit only to somehow warp into the glove of the fielder for the out. Players will also slide along the field or warp through each other repeatedly. It’s not all the time, but there are enough instances of buggy gameplay that leave you scratching your head.
There’s also a game-breaking bug that I encountered no less than six times. While batting after pausing the game, the pitcher will quickly throw his pitch and then freeze into place. Once this happens, you can still swing your bat, but you can’t advance the game or even bring up the pause menu to quit. The only way out of this is to completely exit out of the game, and restart.
Visually up to speed
The player models have seen the most improvement since the series jumped to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. They are more authentic than before and look more lifelike than what you’d expect from an arcade baseball game. On top of that, the stadiums look great and are full of detail. This is the first time the game actually looks like a current-generation game as opposed to a port from the early Xbox 360/PS3 days.
As for the rest of the presentation goes, it’s pretty bland. There’s a stadium announcer and a cutscene that plays after home runs, but no other sense of in-game presentation or commentary. Outside of the game itself, the menus constantly hang up and are slow to react to button presses. A minor hiccup, sure, but when it’s added to an ever-growing list of problems, it can push someone over the edge with this game.
From a modes standpoint, there’s Exhibition, Home Run Derby, Franchise, Postseason, and Online Multiplayer. Be aware, however, that online multiplayer isn’t available for the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
Franchise mode is likely where you’ll spend the bulk of your time since it’s the only mode with any sort of replay value. It’s not the deepest franchise mode out there, but there are some options to customize it how you’d like.
You can set things like season length, trade restrictions, and injury settings, but not much more than that. There’s even the ability to sign legendary and classic MLB players to your roster as you partake on a 10-year journey to win as many World Series championships as you possibly can.
RBI Baseball 20 tries it’s best to give players something fun and enjoyable. The problem is there’s just not much fun or joy to be had with this game. You may get a little bit of fun out of the Home Run Derby and doing some games with family and friends, but nothing about this game says you should come back to it after an hour or two even if it is your only MLB video game option.
With the entire sports world at a complete standstill, people are looking for any way possible to quench the thirst for action. RBI Baseball 20 attempts to give players that escape, but it’s left striking out.